El Mitote: Los Politicos y Las Politicas

By: Bill Whaley
25 June, 2019

Musical Chairs

We’re not sure where to begin but El Mitote is talking. At the Town of Taos, Manager Rick Bellis, we hear is applying for another job to manage a bigger municipality in California. Everyone wishes him Godspeed and/or good luck. Meanwhile, young Darien Fernandez, town council member and ersatz mayoral candidate has his eye on Senator Carlos Cisneros’s seat, an exercise in folly, according to most observers. Better men and worse have failed to unseat the wily Senator.

The rumble on the ground is not an earthquake but a number of locals, are taking aim at the Council’s two seats up for grabs in the March muni elections, one vacant and one occupied by the increasingly unpopular Nathaniel Evans, considered a Bellis factotum. 

The Town Council’s abdication on Abeyta education (too complex) and focus on gentrification at the expense of the Historic culture of the community,  or concerns of The Friends of Kit Carson Park are all raising red flags of resistance against retro-rockers, Manager, Mayor and Council, who seem intent on ignoring their constituents just as The Taos News ignores, well, the news, in favor of their focus on advertising revenues. But if the aspiring community activists persist in changing the culture of the council, hope and help is on the way. Patience, patience.

Due to a split or fractionalization at the Taos Valley Acequia Association, longtime Abeyta guru Palemon, we hear, resigned but, maybe, forced out, due to decay. Parciantes haven’t yet begun to carry their shovels to tense meetings, not yet. Recently the parciantes in Seco voted 27-0 to turn down the Abeyta mandated “reservoir” for winter water storage, thus threatening the Abeyta “shell game” or complex concept involving mitigation wells and the challenge of pumping and piping water hither and yon up hill and down.   

Over at the Taos County Complex, anticipation builds, especially among aspiring District Court Judges, DA potentials, and internecine competition among aspiring County Clerks, all positioning themselves for upcoming elections. 

Friction hears former Assessor Darlene Vigil, “The Incredible Shrinking Woman” is running for Gabe’s seat in the Ranchos-Talpa-Llano area. I don’t remember the names of others, who have expressed interest. The El Prado-Seco-Salto-Valdez-Hondo area might get to choose between former commissioner Nick Jaramillo of Hondo, Francis “1-800-Movidas” Cordova of El Prado, and, possibly Chris Pieper of Salto, all of whom might want to take over term-limited Tom Blankenhorn’s seat.

Meanwhile, we have a new district judge in Raton, who will have to run to retain her seat. When McElroy resigns in October, the Governor will appoint another judge. Aspiring Judges and District Attorneys are waiting to see what the ever-popular Magistrate Judge, Jeff Shannon, will do. It’s one thing to get an appointment but another to run for retention or election against the Mayordomo of Marriage Bans. “They say” Commissioner Fambro, also a part-time muni judge, is angling for Shannon’s magistrate office if the Jeff manages an upgrade.

The hospital is on life support, a week’s wages held in reserve, so the Cross is coming ever closer to financial dysfunction. Commissioner Gabe, years ago, suggested putting out an RFP, aimed at bringing UNMH or Presbyterian up to Taos. But the wily golfer Tom Blankenhorn blocked the effort to oust, what Robert Silver once referred to as the fraternity boys and sorority girls on the board in charge of Taos Health Systems d/b/a Holy Cross Hospital. 

Local taxpayers, who voted to support the hospital, are fleeing in increasing numbers, driving down the Canyon to Espanola, Los Alamos, Santa Fe and Albuquerque, following their favorite former HCH employees. Why sit for several hours in ER when you can sit in and your car and then get admitted pronto? (When my friend Gene Sanchez, RIP, last was in hospital due to “something,” he had a heart attack at HCH but the bureaucrats and staff forgot the DNR he filed with them and revived him so he could die a couple days later, I guess.)  

Up in TSV, we hear, the tiny Village is locked in a dispute with the Ski Corp, which may go to court. Meanwhile nobody’s talking, neither the Forest Service nor an anonymous employee forced out, who raised  concerns about the relocation of a public trail.

Apparently, our neighbors in the high country, like the Coop on Cruz Alta or  The Taos News, and the Town Council, prefer the opaque and enigmatic feel good language of marketing and public relations to (ugh) a transparent discussion of the issues. But I have seen pictures and heard stories of skier-snowboarders riding and skiing the peak this spring post-closing, more a tribute to Mother Nature than her petty progeny, humankind.

Caveat: You never know when a parciante might raise his or her shovel against the status quo, like the activists at El Salto de Agua, who are fighting back with pen and paper, computer and research against the status quo and crooks of yore. The Resistance Lives. There is always a fly in he ointment.